Monday, March 21, 2011

When It's Time To LEAVE

Tough and hurtful times come into every pastor’s ministry. Over the past 6 months that I have been writing posts here at “Hope For Hurting Pastors,” I have been sharing principles that I have learned during tough and hurtful times I have experienced as a pastor. It is always our intent in ministry to be able to work through these difficulties and continue to serve the Lord in our place of service. But those times do come when it becomes obvious that a parting of the ways is best.

This is difficult in so many ways, and our inclination is to go out with “guns blazing” by being sure that our side of the story is communicated to all and understood by all. We often feel a need to counteract every accusation made against us so people know we are innocent. But I would like to suggest and encourage you to prayerfully consider that the best way to leave a ministry when difficulties cannot be resolved is to leave with grace. To me, this means that you leave quietly rather than sharing your side of the story with anyone and everyone who will listen. I have found that the benefits to a graceful exit include:

-We avoid giving the church we are leaving a bad name or a black eye. After all, that church will continue to be a light to their community and will continue to preach Jesus.

-We avoid putting people in the church we are leaving in a position where they have to choose between us and the leadership of the church. Choosing sides is rarely beneficial for anyone.

-We speed up the healing process in our own lives and allow us to work though the need we have to forgive instead of allowing bitterness to take root in our lives.

So if the time comes (and I hope it doesn’t) that the Lord makes it clear that the challenges you are facing in your ministry is to end in a parting of the ways, choose to leave graciously. Don’t go out with “guns blazing.” Keep those guns (your tongue and your words) holstered. I believe that God will bless you for it, and in the end, He will be the one to vindicate you. Go with the words of Isaiah, “In quietness and trust is my strength” (Isaiah 30:15).

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